Yes, the iPhone and iPad devices tend to be rather saturated with physics-based puzzle games, but few are doing as well as Feed Me Oil is performing. Published by Chillingo and developed by Holy Water Games, this new game (released June 2nd) has already risen to the #2 spot on the top paid iPhone apps list and the #12 spot for iPad.
Though the thought of another physics puzzler might leave players groaning, Feed Me Oil is actually quite different. While players still utilize physics-enabled objects to get something from Point A to Point B, that “something” is no longer solid. Now players must take oil with all of its fluidity and transport it to where it needs to go. This requires a different style of thinking.
As with most games developed by a small team (only three for Feed Me Oil), the premise is fairly basic. Oil is leaking onto the land and bizarre creatures of gargantuan stature are hungry for it. In order to save this unnamed world, players must use various objects to direct the spilling oil into their mouths. In order to satiate their massive hunger, players must direct a specific amount of oil to the target destination; similar in respect to Ink Ball HD.
Depending on the level, players are granted a number of objects to complete their task. Though there is not as much variety as in games like Casey’s Contraptions, the objects come with very specific functions. Basics (e.g. static platforms) are present, but the game will also grant players things such as fans for pushing, magnets for pulling, and spinning swirls of wind for turning. All of these can also be rotated and/or have whatever directional force they might apply to the oil changed.
When objects are placed where the user desires, they can open up the oil spigot and it will pour into whatever compilation of objects the user has pieced together. What makes the game a bit different is the fact that users are dealing with liquid, and the game, in facts, emulates fluid physics rather well. While the oil does come out in a mass, it accurately falls and separates into droplets as one would expect.
Since the oil separates, players have to be a bit more careful with their designs then they would with a solid object. A weak design in Feed Me Oil will often result in “leaks” (for lack of a better term) that will drop oil onto the ground where it can typically no longer be collected. Since each level requires so much oil, too many lost drops can result in failure. As such, users will often find themselves not only trying to design their contraptions to move the bulk of the oil, but may also find themselves creating proverbial fail safes that catch these lost droplets.
Many of the puzzles are quite challenging as well. A fair number of the maps will introduce other challenges, such as an oil target area on the underside of a cliff, spinning platforms, or even hitting buttons to open up gates. Moreover, some levels even require oil to be a certain color before it reaches its target, a task accomplished by passing oil through a color changing object floating about the level.
In order to mitigate this extra challenge, players are able to access hints that will physically outline where objects should be placed (one object per hint). What is interesting is that this also acts as a monetization element. After the player has used so many hints, the game will put a “cool-down” timer on it. This means that players can only access a hint every 30 seconds. In order to get around this, an in-app purchase dubbed “Instant Hints Forever” is available for $0.99.
As it stands, Feed Me Oil currently comes with three chapters, each with 15 levels (as well as four unlockable bonus levels). The game is connected to Chillingo’s Crystal social gaming network and with that comes both achievements and leaderboards. Also, like most puzzle games of this nature, the score is based on earning up to three stars with points augmented by things such as time, number of objects used, and so on.
On the negative side of things, the achievements are extraordinarily bland. While there are a good number of them, most consist of merely sequential accomplishments. These are things like “earn X amount of stars” in total or “collect X amount of oil” in total.
Despite this minor qualm, Feed Me Oil, for both devices, is a quality game that physics-puzzle lovers will certainly enjoy. Complete with a unique style and a different thought requirement courtesy of the moving liquid, it’s an application that well deserves its #2 ranking.